Huron (3 AUG 2002) - Libertarian candidate for Governor, Nathan A.
Barton of rural Rapid City, was arrested today by security guards at
the Freedom Stage on the South Dakota State Fairgrounds, at the beginning
of a congressional candidates debate forum which did not include congressional
Libertarian candidate Terry Begay.
Mr. Barton was standing on the side of the audience area and asking in a
loud voice, "Where is Terry Begay? There are three candidates on the
ballot for U.S. House. Where is the third candidate? Don't we have a right,"
when he was grabbed in mid-sentence by law-enforcement moonlighting as security
for the forum debates for House, Senate and Governor. All of the
forums featured only the Democratic and Republican candidates, and excluded
the Libertarian candidates for those offices who were duly and
lawfully on the November 5th ballot.
Mr. Barton had earlier spoken
with the moderator, who then said that only "invited" candidates were to be
featured. Further, Kurt Evans, Libertarian candidate for U.S.
Senate, had been warned that if he attempted to go on the stage, he would
be stopped by security.
Mr. Barton made his comments from the side of the outdoor audience area,
and did not attempt to say anything on the stage. The security guards carried
Mr. Barton out and was told that he would be arrested on trespassing
charges if he tried to reenter the Fairgrounds.
Mr. Barton stated
that he was an exhibitor on the fairgrounds, that it was public land, and that
he was only exercising his right to free speech. One of the officers told
Mr. Barton, in response, that he didn't like
Mr. Barton and didn't like what
he had to say, and that he was disturbing good people. Mr. Barton replied
that that is why we have the First Amendment to protect speech that
may be unpopular.
They then handcuffed Mr. Barton, knocking his glasses off, injuring both
his right thumb and his left wrist. Mr. Barton was then taken to the
Fairground Security Office, arriving there with blood dripping down his
wrists and staining his clothing. He was then taken to the Beadle
County Jail, where he was booked on charges of "disorderly conduct" and
"obstructing a law enforcement officer," and released on $500 bond and a judge's
order not to return to the Fairgrounds until after 4 PM [presumably after the
candidate's debates were over].
Mr. Barton's older son, Gareth, was aiding in distributing flyers at the
time and witnessed his father's arrest. When Mr. Barton was taken to jail,
both his older son and his younger son, Matthias, were left abandoned on
the Fairgrounds. Only through the aid of friends were the boys taken
care of while Mr. Barton was in a holding cell.
Mr. Barton, and other
Libertarian candidates for office, emphasized that this treatment
of people whose views vary from their own, and the tendency to resort to
force to preclude alternative candidates, is one of the reasons that they
are running for office.
Mr. Barton had been at the State Fair since Wednesday, along with
Libertarian candidates at the party booth. This is the first time the
Libertarian Party has even been able to have a booth at the annual event.